Mets-Yankees Series Bring Exciting Subway Moments
By Michael Avallone
Love it or hate it, Interleague play has been a part of the Major League Baseball schedule for eight years now. As the ninth season gets set to begin, the Mets and Yankees will renew acquaintances with as much juice as the first go-around in 1997.
You remember that night at the Stadium right? The immortal Dave Mlicki of the Mets completely stymied the Bronx Bombers, pitching a complete-game shutout in the Mets 6-0 win.
It was a different time then. The Yankees were the defending World Series champions and although they wouldn’t take home the crown that year, their most recent dynasty was just beginning. Derek Jeter was only a second-year player. Bernie Williams was in his prime. David Cone was still one of the top pitchers in the game and Jorge Posada was just beginning his career.
The Mets were the surprise of baseball. After a 71-win season in 1996, they were in the thick of the Wild Card hunt under Bobby Valentine. Todd Hundley was still the starting catcher. Butch Huskey was in right field. John Olerud was at first and Bobby Jones was New York’s ace.
The Yankees would go on to win the final two games of that set and even during the Mets successful run from 1998-2001, would thoroughly dominate the Subway Series, including a five-game victory in the 2000 World Series.
Fast forward to 2005 and the cast of characters has changed. While Jeter, Williams, Posada and Tino Martinez are still in pinstripes, there is not ONE Met that remains from that ’97 team.
Most of the players feel that the Subway Series is a treat for the fans. But its really for the first time since 2000 though, the games have a little extra meaning.
Longtime Yankee player/coach Willie Randolph is now the Mets skipper. Former Boston ace and chief instigator, Pedro Martinez, now wears the blue and orange (and black) for the Mets.
Both teams enter Wednesday’s games with identical 21-19 records. The Mets have been one of the streakier teams in the league, losing five, winning six, losing four, winning four. The Yanks have risen from the ashes with a 10-game winning streak after bottoming out at 11-19 and all of a sudden, the cries to break up the team have been silenced.
It all makes for interesting conversation. Whether you’re a fan of the 26-time World Champions or the Amazins, one thing is certain: eight years and 47 games later, the Subway Series still draws the best (and worst) out of New Yorkers.
Here’s a look at some exciting moments from past Subway Series games:
6/16/97 – The Mets win the first-ever regular season matchup between the two teams as Dave Mlicki throws a complete-game shutout. John Olerud drives in three runs and Todd Hundley steals home as the Mets batter Andy Pettite, 6-0.
6/26/98 – The infamous Mel Rojas game. Perhaps responding to criticism from then-Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver, manager Bobby Valentine brings in Rojas to face lefty Paul O’Neill, who promptly unties the game with a three-run homer to give the Yanks an eventual 8-4 win. After the blast, Valentine looks up to the broadcast booth and shrugs his shoulders as if to say “Happy now?”
6/6/99 – In a turnaround game for the Mets, Al Leiter and Mike Piazza help snap a seven-game losing streak that had dropped the Mets under .500. Piazza begins his assault against Roger Clemens with a mammoth home run and Leiter pitches seven innings of one-run ball in the 7-2 win.
7/10/99 – A wild, back-and-forth game that includes two monster homers by Piazza, ends on a pinch-hit single by Matt Franco in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing by a run and with Yankees stopper Mariano Rivera on the mound, Franco delivers a two-out, two-strike base hit to give the Mets a 9-8 win.
6/9/00 –Piazza blasts a grand slam to dead center off of Clemens in support of Leiter as the Mets clobber the Yanks 12-2. The shot sets up a confrontation three weeks later…
7/2/00 – The Yankees sweep a doubleheader as the two teams play the first game at Shea and the nightcap in the Bronx. Doc Gooden makes his first start in Queens since he was a member of the Mets in 1994 and earns the win, but it was the second game where the real fireworks started. Piazza – already with three career homers off of Clemens – is hit in the helmet with a pitch, and misses the All-Star game suffering from the effects of a concussion.
10/21/00 – In the first World Series matchup between two New York team sin 45 years, the Yankees tie the game in the ninth off Mets closer Armando Benitez and go on to win a 13-inning marathon, 4-3 on a single by former Met Jose Vizcaino.
10/22/00 – The Yanks take a 6-0 lead and hold on to defeat the Mets 6-5 but the real excitement started in the second inning. Facing each other for the first time since the bean ball incident in July, Clemens and Piazza go at it again. A fastball saws off Piazza’s bat, sending the head hurtling towards Clemens who catches it and fires it toward a bewildered Mets catcher. The benches would clear and cooler heads would prevail, but the strange saga of Piazza-Clemens continues.
10/26/00 – On what seemed like a 14-hopper, Luis Sojo’ single up the middle drove in the go-ahead runs as the Yankees defeat Leiter and the Mets, 4-2. They claimed their third straight World Series championship and fourth in five years. The Yankees haven’t hoisted the trophy since.
6/15/02 – After almost two years of waiting, the Mets finally get a crack at Clemens. The 8-0 win behind Shawn Estes was secondary, as all eyes were eye on Clemens’ first at bat. Estes throws behind him in a pitiful attempt to bean the Hall of Famer but both he and Piazza and would homer off Clemens to exact some revenge in the 8-0 victory.
7/4/04 – A back-and-forth affair ends with the Mets sweeping the Bombers for the first time in the eight-year history of Interleague play. Two Ty Wigginton homers – the second to put the Mets ahead – gives New York the win and avenges an 0-6 stretch against the Yanks in 2003.